Sign variance request lives on

Despite zero local support for allowing a tall, wide sign to be erected  at the intersection of Coors and Ladera, the developer is continuing to make appeals at the Environmental Planning Commission and the City Planning Office .

During a during a facilitated meeting about the Coors Pavilion shopping center, nearby residents raised significant issues with proposed increases in the height and size of the sign — which the developer, Joshua Skarsgard, claims are needed to reach his business goals and attract tenants.

On December 19, after WSCONA members summarized community opposition, the Zoning Hearing Officer deferred a decision after the developer proposed another meeting to seek a compromise.  That meeting has not yet been scheduled.

The earlier meeting cited concerns over Coors becoming “another Montgomery, Menaul or Lomas Boulevard- type of corridor.” Residents added that allowing for a variance runs the risk of “setting a precedent whereby other competing businesses on Coors ask for the same signage consideration.”

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Meeting Tuesday to discuss huge sign on Coors

The developer of the Coors Pavilion shopping center at the corner of Coors and St. Josephs is seeking approval for a sign that would far exceed size limitations now placed on commercial signage along Coors.

The Coors Corridor Plan limits the size of commercial signs at 9 feet high and 75 square feet in area. Red Shamrock 4, LLC is asking for a variance to nearly double the size of the sign to 133 square fee, and increase its height to 26 feet.

You will have a chance to discuss the request  with the developer at a facilitated meeting Tuesday, from  6-8 p.m., at the Taylor Ranch Community Center, 4900 Kachina NW.

Continue reading Meeting Tuesday to discuss huge sign on Coors

Opinion piece, online form offered in IDO debate

In an opinion piece published in the Albuquerque Journal,  Dr. Joe Valles argues that—in its current form — the IDO will damage the ability of neighborhoods to have a say in future development across the city.

“One thing is extremely clear, ” he wrote,  “the real constituency the majority of the City Council answers to is the ‘industry,’ as one councilor referred to the development community!”

Meanwhile, the Highland Business and Neighborhood Association has crafted a form that allows city residents to send a note their Councilor asking for more time to consider the proposed ordinance, which will have far-reaching effects on how the city plans its development and whether citizens have a significant say in that process.


WSCONA president issues call to action on IDO

Jerry Worrall, president of WSCONA, citing Martin Salazarʼs article in the  Albuquerque Journal,  called on residents across the City to contact their Council representatives about the Integrated Development Ordinance, or IDO.

“Now is not the time to sit by and wait for others to stand against this overly rushed approval,” he says in a letter to the editor of the Journal. As voting, tax-paying, property-owning, renting or business-owning citizens of this city, he added, “this will have an impact in ways that citizens of Albuquerque cannot imagine.”

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A “lousy way” to redo an important plan

The City Council will consider the IDO today at 5 pm in the Council Chambers.

Rene’ Horvath, who oversees land-use issues for WSCONA, says, “This is a lousy way to redo such an important plan.” She asked people on the West Side to attend the hearing, or express concerns that the plan is not ready for adoption by calling or e-mailing all councilors (768-3100) to delay approving the plan until the public can review and address all the outstanding issues.

Continue reading A “lousy way” to redo an important plan

LUPZ meeting to address neighborhood concerns

The Land Use, Planning, and Zoning committee will hold another hearing on the Integrated Development Ordinance Wednesday September 27th, at 5 pm in the City Council Chambers.

The committee will be taking testimony and will go over amendments to the IDO to address concerns raised at the August 16th hearing.

Rene’ Horvath, who manages land use issues for WSCONA, said that the development community spoke at previous meetings in support of:

  • More permissive uses
  • Fewer conditional uses
  • Less public involvement
  • More density and building height

Neighborhood representatives spoke in favor of:

  • Protections found in the current regulations and ordinances
  • An open and public process for consideration of zoning changes
  • The right to appeal decisions

All these protections are in the existing Zone Code and Sector Plans.

Neighborhoods also brought up concerns that the density, building heights, and intensive uses being promoted by the IDO are too high and located inappropriately near residential areas. The  interactive map provided by the Planning Department shows the new zoning being proposed for Albuquerque.

Your participation at this hearing will show neighborhood support. If you have questions, call Rene’ at (505) 898-2114

Give thanks for putting Fluoridation back on track

Dr. Joe L. Valles encouraged people across the city to send an email of appreciation to the five members of the Albuquerque Water Authority who  voted to approve reinstatement of fluoridation Wednesday. Two members voted no.

“This culminates a sustained push on the part of numerous residents, neighborhood associations and the dental-medical community to get fluoridation restored,” said Valles, a WSCONA member and president of the New Mexico Dental Association,

“Obviously, some of the supportive Board Members struggled approaching their conclusion. But in the end, they trusted the experts—the scientific community—in support of setting fluoridation levels according to optimal, safe and effective standard by the Center for Disease Control.  They understood that the best investment made is prevention and that fluoridation plays a major part in it,” he continued, adding that, “no doubt they expect some severe criticism from opponents for their actions.”

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Mayor candidates offer West Side views

Six of the eight candidates for mayor of Albuquerque offered their ideas about crime, economic development, how neighborhoods can contribute to resolving problems, and their visions for the city at a recent WSCONA meeting.

While very limited in time and clearly repeating spiels they have offered countless times to similar audiences, some elements specifically aimed at the West Side emerged. All the candidates are competing in the first round of voting, which has begun and culminates October 3. The top two vote-getters will vie in a run-off in November.

In the order they presented, they are:

Brian Colón

“We are in a crisis,” and crime is the primary issue facing the city, said Colon. His goals are increasing the number of officers to 1,200 and emphasizing community policing. His first six months in office would be “all about crime, all the time.” As a “lawyer who has represented police officers across the state,” he said he is “uniquely qualified to talk about law enforcement.” He believes that “public trust has been broken with the city and county” and, under his leadership, “when there is a crisis, you’ll hear from the mayor or police chief, not just public information staff.”

Dan Lewis


The city is now “defined by crime,” Lewis said, and mentioned a “comprehensive plan to build the police force and improve public safety.”


Michelle Garcia Holmes

Garcia Holmes served as a uniformed officer and detective in Albuquerque for 20 years and was later chief of staff for the State Attorney General. She called the crime problem the result of poor leadership and management. “We keep electing politicians,” she said, but in elections “four and eight years ago, we were talking about the same issues.” She said that knowing the city is “number one in auto theft and number five in violent crimes against children made me run for mayor.”

Saying she would bring in a new chief, and noting that she had worked under six different ones, she would improve recruitment and training. “There’s an integrity problem in our police department,” she said, adding that “we don’t depend on an officer’s words anymore.”

She wants to ensure compliance with recommendations of the Department of Justice and work with the National Association of Police Chiefs to look for ways to change and improve crime fighting. “In the end, “she said, “it all boils down to having the right policies and following them.”

Gus Pedrotty

Pedorty called crime an issue “we know how to solve quickly — get rid of the chief, do community policing, finish the Department of Justice mandate, hire more officers, etc.” If we “can solve these in the first year,” he concluded, “what do we do with the rest of time? We have to work toward a new culture.”

Tim Keller

Keller, the state auditor and former state representative from the International District, is concerned about the city. The only publicly financed candidate, he said that “we’re at a crossroads,” pointing at a pattern of “thinking that deals in excuses rather than action.” As mayor, he would consider problems his to solve, noting that he has proposed specific plans to combat crime and improve the city’s economy, development and others.

Health care, poverty and poor education are all related to crime, he said. It’s “very important to focus in two areas — early childhood programs to break the poverty cycle, improve health and tackle social issues.” The city should “own the problem by building facilities to address these and related issues, behavioral problems and mental illness.” Providing such facilities, he said, would “cost about the same as the baseball fields that were built recently.”

The Economy

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City Council Candidates examine West Side issues

Candidates for City Council seats in Districts 1, 3 and 5 gave brief presentations on how they would address issues confronting the City at a recent WSCONA meeting. The general election will be October 3, and early voting runs from September 13 to 29 at these locations.

While limited to two minutes and a few questions from the audience, they attempted to differentiate themselves and offer concrete proposals in dealing with crime, land development, relationships with the community and other areas.

Here are highlights of their comments, by district and in alphabetical order. Continue reading City Council Candidates examine West Side issues

Santolina Land Swap plan to be considered by County

The Bernalillo County Commission is scheduled to consider the proposal to trade land planned for development east of the city for vacant-but-buildable government infill land  at its meeting Tuesday, August 15, beginning at 5 pm.

The plan, which would use the Santolina area for solar farms,  open space and other environmentally friendly uses, was outlined in an August 5 letter by Paul Lusk, David Vogel and Julia Stephens.

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News and Community Coordination on the West Side of Albuquerque